Southwestern Enchantment

Just back from my first vacation in New Mexico, “Land of Enchantment,” my mind lingers on memories of the colors of the Southwest landscape and the extraordinary artistry I saw both in the vintage jewelry of the native peoples and in fresh designs produced by contemporary artists. As it happens, Southwest-influenced designs are very much on fashion’s radar this season.


The October 2011 issue of Lucky magazine contains a 10-page feature entitled “The New Frontier,” proclaiming: “Native American motifs become city staples when paired with bold accessories and the sharpest of shapes.” The photos, styled by Susan Joy, contain some of the most exciting stylings, including the use of jewelry, I’ve seen in that publication. With the opening photo above, Lucky advises: “Throw on a black-and-white poncho to temper such bright separates.” The final touch: a short, serrated-edge, oxidized silver-plated necklace from TOMTOM Jewelry that repeats the geometric motif of the poncho. The poncho is from 525 America, worn with an Equipment shirt, Katie Ermilio pants, and Aldo pumps.  


Another poncho from Pendleton Meets Opening Ceremony is the focal point of this bright ensemble in the “New Frontier” spread. Notice that the suede sandals from Tania Spinelli match the bright yellow pants from J. Crew. Here too the look is finished with thoughtfully selected jewelry: a choker plus a coordinating longer necklace from Faux/real, plus a quartet of bracelets:  a cuff from Assad Mounser, worn on its own on the model’s right wrist, plus a pink bracelet from Faux/real, a friendship bracelet of sterling silver and thread from Links of London, and a wraparound bracelet of leather and gold-plated metal from Gorjana. The shirt is from Gap and the sunglasses are by Oliver Peoples.


Here’s another terrific styling from Lucky, featuring a jacket, pants and leather top from Proenza Schouler set off perfectly with a pair of wood and metal earrings from Marni that relate beautifully to the shapes and spacing seen in the pixilated, magnified Navajo print of the jacket and pants. The earrings also relate to the highly dimensional shapes in the cuff from Pamela Love. The red pumps, which match the top, are from Blumarine.

The October 2011 issue of InStyle highlights “Navajo” as a key trend in accessories this season: “Colorful patterns, dangling feathers, and bold stitching are inspired by the great Southwest.” The obsidian stone and stainless steel collar with arrowhead pendant from Basile & Pape featured in the upper left corner, combines two important trends:  the wide choker and the Y shape of the necklace. Along with a snakeskin clutch from Carlos Falchi, a scarf from H&M, and shoes from Jimmy Choo, the page shows rooster feather earrings with oxidized silver from Claire Kinder Studio.

Feather earrings are having their moment in the sun. Sometimes associated with rock star style, they receive a more conservative pairing in the October 2011 issue of Elle where they are shown as accessories appropriate to pastel cold-weather dressing. The earrings pictured are from Simonn, Eddie Borgo, H&M, and Brash by Payless.

Indeed, Elle identified the influence of Southwestern designs on fashion back in July 2011, saying: “Lead the way in Santa Fe-esque fabrics, feathered accessories, and commanding Navajo-inspired patterns.” The only item of jewelry identified amid the colorful offerings  is a pair of dream-catcher earrings from Natalia Brilli.

Whether you choose vintage themes, such as feathers or dream catchers, or modern interpretations of Native American motifs, jewelry and fashion inspired by the Southwest truly can be the stuff of dreams.


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